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After the last few years of planning we've finally gotten to the point of applying for a building permit. When I got to the building department tonight I learned that the town has adopted the "stretch code" which is apparently a much more stringent building code that, as far as I can tell, requires a minimum of an R-38 wall insulation. I'm not sure if this is confined to Massachusetts or if it has spread nationally but it appears to me as if the log home industry has a lot to lose from this. My question is does anyone know enough about this to shine some light on my situation? I'm acting as my own G.C. and I don't necessarily want to settle for a third party's word as gospel as it doesn't seem like anyone I talk to has a grasp on it. I thought that because I had a deposit on the kit before 2012 I might be ok but I'm really just grasping at straws. Thanks in advance for any help on the matter.

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Comment by Mike Leslie on May 22, 2012 at 7:45pm

Thanks everyone. I've gone through the required steps and found that with a reasonable HVAC system the house actually models very well. On top of the HERS rating an air leakage test for both the home and any duct work involved. The HVAC system required is  a little more involved than conventional but with a 2 stage propane furnace and a 14.5 SEER heat pump (I had planned to use a 13 SEER heat pump anyway) it more than compensated for the lower R value in the logs. The total cost of the process is estimated to be around $1600 so it's manageable and to top it off the company I used provides you with all energy company rebate info and applications which worked out to be the majority of the cost of the process.

Comment by Randy Esposito on April 30, 2012 at 10:29pm


You have to hire a HERS rater in Mass. to give an overall HERS value to the home.  We are just finishing up a Moosehead Cedar Log home with 6 inch log that is being built in a stretch code town.  It passed the HERS rating so I imagine you should be able to as well as long as your heating system and roof system are beefed up. 

Remember, if you are building the house yourself that you have to pass a blower door test when you are done so be sure to put in all of your splines and gasket everywhere that it is required.

Comment by Scott Castle on April 28, 2012 at 8:15am

NC energy efficiency code now in effect. How are some of the changes

Walls, R-13+2.5, or R-15, here are your options and associated considerations:

  • Use R-19 batts in 2x6 walls
    • Requires 2x6 studs instead of 2x4
    • Windows and exterior doors will have thicker jambs    
  • Use high density R-15 insulation in 2x4 walls
    • This type of insulation costs more
  • Use structural insulated sheathing
    • Is not as durable as OSB
    • Do not need house wrap
    • Use same studs and window jambs
Windows, now U=0.35
Insulation - You have to use more, one way or another
Pull down stairs - Will need to be insulated

The question is what code does your state use. The IBC or a state adopted code and also what year code do they enforce. Also what code is en effect when you apply for your permits.
Comment by Raymond Wengerd on April 27, 2012 at 11:02pm

In my state, in select counties,  it has been raised to an R-13 for walls, which is just a little more than an 8"pine log wall provides. You are right, it does throw a wrench in the tradition of log homes as we know them.

Ray Wengerd

Comment by James W. Harbin on April 27, 2012 at 11:48am

eHi Mike, Don't panic. The log home industry has been ahead of this issue for years. If you are working with a good company they can provide you everything you need to satisfy your lender and your local government. I know that a lot of lenders require a general contractor who is approved by them in order to finance your project. The national code divides the country into zones according to climate and that dictates your requirements. Jim and Pam Katahdin Cedar Log Homes

Comment by Chris Wood on April 24, 2012 at 9:18am
I believe you are looking at the ceiling or roof r-value requirements, not the exterior walls. Once you select a log home company to draw and detail your plans, they'll help you with the energy code submittal. If you are wanting to buy raw trees and build your own, good luck.

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